Marc-Antoine Charpentier, 1643-1704


Selected Recordings</h3?

Sonate à huit

Messe de Minuit pour Nöel

Orphée descendant aux enfers

Selected Sheet Music




Showcase Piece

Sans frayeur dans ce bois

Notes and Commentary

“Neglected for centuries, Marc-Antoine Charpentier has emerged as one of the greatest French composers of sacred music in the 17th century, arguably superior to his more successful contemporary, Jean-Baptiste Lully. His music shows more diversity than Lully’s ranging—often within the same work—from the stately to the intimate. The key to this achievement was his adoption of a style based on the new Italian concerto, which employed dramatically telling contrasts between different groupings of voices throughout a work. Moreover, Charpentier softened the predominantky formal and grandiose style of French music, intoducing a more Italianate sensuousness and a greater sensitivity to word-setting.”—The Rough Guide to Classical Music (2001, 3rd ed.)

Charpentier was exceptionally prolific and versatile, producing compositions of the highest quality in several genres. His mastery in writing sacred vocal music, above all, was recognized and hailed by his contemporaries. His compositions include oratorios, masses, operas, and numerous smaller pieces that are difficult to categorize. Many of his smaller works for one or two voices and instruments resemble the Italian cantata of the time, and share most features except for the name: Charpentier calls them air sérieux or air à boire if they are in French, but cantata if they are in Italian.

In addition to his compositions, Charpentier was a music theorist who wrote several treatises on composition, including one called Règles de Composition par Monsieur Charpentier and Augmentations tirées de l’original de Mr le duc de Chartres. He lived from 1643 to February 24, 1704.—Excerpted from Wikipedia

Books and Music

Selected Books

Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Amadeus Press, 2003
Catherine Cessac
$30.55 on Amazon


“A wonderful text. It gives a sense of the man, from the very limited sources available. It gives a careful discussion of most of his compositions, by genre. It is beautifully and poignantly written. A Charpentier devotee since 1973, I have read and reread many parts of the book since it was published in 1995. It is a must for Charpentier admirers as well as those interested in French baroque musique more broadly.”—Trond Petersen

New Perspectives on Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Ashgate, 2010
Shirley Thompson
$128.20 on Amazon


Selected Music

Orphee La Descente d’Orphee aux Enfers (2005), 1 CD

Grace Grace Et Grandeurs De La Vierge (1999), 1 CD

Medee Médée (1995) 3-CD box set

More Marc-Antoine Charpentier music

Complete Works

Antiennes O de l’Avent
Ave Regina

Beatus vir

Conceptio tuo Dei genitrix virgo
Concert pour 4 parties de violes
Cur mundus militat

David et Jonathas
Dialogus inter Magdalenam et Jesum
Domine salvum fac regem
Domine salvum
Domine salvum
Domine salvum

Egredimini filiæ Sion
Élévation au St Sacrement
Euge serve bone
Extremum Dei judicium

Filius prodigus

3 Hymnes à saint Nicaise

In honorem Sancti Xaverij canticum
In nativitatem Domini canticum

Laetatus sum
Lauda Jerusalem
Lauda Sion

Le malade imaginaire
Méditations pour le Carême
Messe à 8 voix et 8 violons et flûtes
Messe à quatre choeurs
Messe de minuit pour noël

Nisi Dominus
Noël pour les instruments
Noël sur les instruments

O amor, o bonitas
O coelestis Jerusalem
O filii
O Salutaris
O vos amici mei
Ouverture et intermèdes

Panis angelicus voce sola
Peccavi Domine
Peccavi Domine, peccavi multum
Les plaisirs de Versailles
Pour Saint Augustin mourant
Pour Ste. Anne

Sur la naissance de notre Seigneur Jésus Christ
Symphonies pour un reposoir

Te Deum
Tristis est anima mea

Veni creator Spiritus
Veni creator Spiritus
Victimae paschali laudes


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